Like a tagine, only cooked in whatever pot you have to hand. A whole shelf of wonderful store cupboard ingredients make this recipe deep, smokey, rich and utterly unctuous. As firey or sweet with chilli as you would like: just add more of the hot stuff to ramp up the heat.
This rich stew can be a plant based or meat free dish, we added paneer for our vegetarian … but Tofu, large hunks of roasted vegetables or chickpeas would work well as veggie or vegan options. Just remember that not all these need as long to cook as lamb will do.
Don’t attempt to rush this meal: it is a slow cook. Savour collecting the ingredients; the grinding of the spices and the gentle changes in the flavours as the sauce starts to come together. Cook indoors on a rainy Sunday or bubble away over a woodfire on a blazing Saturday.
Ingredients to marinade the meat:
- 1kg of lamb shoulder, large dice (or a block or two of paneer cubed)
- 2 tsp red peppercorns (ground)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp dried Espelette chilli flakes
- 2 tsp black peppercorns (ground)
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 inches fresh grated ginger
- 1 inch fresh grated turmeric
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tsp salt
- a couple of teaspoons of Belazu Rose Harissa paste. One day we might venture into making our own paste but today, this is what we used. It is darn good, a blend of spices like carawy, cumin and rose petals. Hard to beat.
Cover the meat/cheese with the marinade and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. Maybe chill with a beer.
Starting to cook…
Collect up the next round of ingredients:
- 3 x red onions, finely diced
- 2 x fresh red ripe chillies. Your choice for adding heat. We like Espelette or Aleppo, definitely an Annuum or Frutescens as Chinense or Baccatum flavour is not quite right here.
- 2 x tins of chopped tomatoes
- 1 pint of tomato juice
- a good pinch of saffron strands
- 1 & 1/2 pints of lamb stock (add saffron strands into the stock to bring them back to life a little)
- 100g dried apricots
- 100g pitted dates
- 100g sultanas
- 100g flaked almonds
Heat your cooking vessel to fry off the marinated meat/paneer. Once it has browned remove and keep to one side until the sauce has been prepared.
Fry off finely chopped red onions and red chillies. Add tinned tomatoes, bring to a bubble, then add the meat back. Cheese does not need as much cooking time as lamb but the sauce itself does need a reasonable cooking time to develop its flavours and depth fully.
Top up with tomato juice and stock. Bring to the boil, add fruit & nuts.
Allow it to simmer…
Bubble away for a good couple of hours. Check tenderness of meat. Add a bit more tomato juice if the sauce is becoming a little thick or dry. This can be especially important when cooking outside. Taste and season, including a squeeze of honey to balance the spices.
Serve with traditional cous cous, wholemeal flatbread, plain yoghurt, roasted veggies, a tomato & onion salad, a handful of coriander. It’s up to you.
An oxymoron of a delicate & robust dish.